mindful march : relationships
So far, we've covered being mindful with our time, being mindful with our stress responses, and being mindful with our spirits, but what about being mindful in our relationships? Being mindful with ourselves helps us regulate our emotions and respond instead of react; those first three posts provide a great foundation for just that. Additionally, there are some outward-focused intentions that can help strengthen our loving relationships. Keep reading for some of our top ways to tune in with our loved ones, and keep in mind that these suggestions apply to romantic relationships, friendships, and family.
WHAT ARE THEIR LOVE LANGUAGES
Unfortunately, we are not alone when we think of relationships we've had where we feel alone even when we're surrounded by people. In retrospect, we can see that was a direct result of not feeling seen or heard by those we love. That isn't to say that we weren't actually loved, but rather acknowledging our perception of what is happening. If we take one more step back and remove our egos from the process, we can also come to terms with the idea that, at some point in our lives, others have felt that way around us. Yes, it's uncomfy to think about, but there is a simple solution: tune into others' love languages. Say your best friend feels most loved when people anticipate her needs and act accordingly; her love language is acts of service. Maybe your partner always lights up when you offer him unsolicited compliments; his love language is words of affirmation. When we intentionally act on our people's love languages, we take the time to see them as they are (rather than how we perceive them to be) and prioritize making them feel loved.
What to find out your love language? Take this free quiz.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH CONFLICT
This is a big one. Depending on how you were raised, your approach to conflict can be wildly different from the people in your life. Some of us fear conflict. Some of us crave conflict. Some of us yell. Some of us get eerily calm. The learned conflict response can be as unique as the individual. Before trying to change how you show up in times of disagreement, we encourage you to deep dive into yourself and see what unconscious narratives govern your approach. We recommend exploring our first mindfulness post on stress responses to get in touch with that part of yourself and find a way to explore it that is safe, curious, and accepting. Once you understand your emotional response, this is where we like to stick to the basics. First, stick to "I" statements instead of beginning your rebuttals with "you," so the other participant doesn't feel as though they are being attacked/accused. Second, try to keep your voice level and conversational so it doesn't escalate into a screaming match; raising our voices never effectively solves any problems. Third, be flexible and remember that, regardless of what the conversation is over, there are a lot of right ways to do almost everything; be open to a shared solution instead of a my-way-or-the-highway attitude.
PRESENCE : THE KEY TO SUCCESS
If what they say is true, then the present is truly a gift and being fully present with other is (in our opinion) one of the greatest gifts we can give. When you're with others, make eye contact. Fully participate in the conversation. Most importantly, put your phone away. This is especially important when you're out grabbing coffee or drinks or dinner. We cannot truly find connection when we are only partially present, and the ramifications affect not only our relationships but also ourselves, introverts and extroverts alike. Do you ever find yourself distracting yourself with mindless scrolling? What are some ways that you could explore whatever it is that you're distracting yourself from? How can you challenge yourself to be more present?
ASK QUESTIONS + COMMUNICATE OUR NEEDS
This one is a big one, especially when it comes to cohabitating with anyone. One of the biggest mistakes that every single one of us makes is assuming that our roommate(s)/partner(s) automatically knows what we want or need and then growing frustrated or angry when that want or need is not met. Regardless of how long you may have been living with someone, it is important to continually and kindly communicate your needs. Do you need them to take their clothes out of the dryer? Ask them. Is it their turn to unload the dishwasher? Ask them. Do you need help with something? Ask them. It is ultimately up to us to communicate our needs, not on our loved ones to interpret them.
Within this umbrella, we'll also often find our loved ones communicating their wants and needs to us. Sometimes our egos like to try to make us feel like we're a bad friend/partner/family member for not noticing, triggering our defensive reactions and potentially leading to a disagreement. Often times we find that the defensive mechanism is triggered by assumptions we make about the other's intentions, thoughts, and motivations, but do you want to know something comforting? Usually those assumptions are wildly off base in the best way possible. Next time you find yourself getting defensive, we encourage you to pause, take a deep breath, and ask questions instead. Get curious about it and see how your relationship grows as a result.
GIVE THEM (AND YOURSELF) GRACE
This is hands down the most important tip you will read here: give yourself and your loved ones grace. If you're anything like us, we love to set ridiculously high standards for ourselves. When we meet/exceed them, it is the best feeling in the world. When we fall short of them, it hurts. Because we regularly expect so much from ourselves, it's so easy to allow those expectations to extend to those who are closest to us - forgetting that there is no rule saying our goals must be shared by our people. One mantra we like to keep in our back pocket when we feel these lofty expectations taking over is that people do the best they can with what they have. Some days our best will truly be our best. Other days, our best won't be much - perhaps our mental health needs some tending, perhaps we are ill, perhaps we need rest.
At the end of the day, we are all human and we are all doing our best every day. Give yourself some grace. Give your loved ones grace. If you're in a position to provide support, rather than feeling frustrated for someone who (from your perspective) doesn't seem to be doing their part, try asking questions (see previous tip) and see how they're doing. Ask if they need support. Ask if they need help. Sometimes it's as simple as that.
How do you show up for others in your life? What are the little things you like to do to make your people feel loved? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.